Posts tagged ‘law enforcement’

Don’t Ignore Domestic Violence

The Galveston County Daily News recently published a story about offering help to victims of domestic violence. Dr. Jeff Temple, a professor at the University of Texas, asks these questions:

If you witnessed someone breaking into your neighbor’s house, would you call the police?

What if you saw someone stealing the neighbor’s car? How about if you saw your neighbor hit his wife?

This last question might be a bit more difficult to answer, but it shouldn’t be.

Many people are afraid to get involved in instances of domestic abuse. Some think it is a personal matter and they shouldn’t get involved in anyone’s private business. But Dr. Temple says that kind of thinking is wrong:

Domestic violence is not a private matter; it is a severe and pervasive public health concern that demands the same diligence as other problems you might encounter in your neighborhood.

A marriage license is not a license to hit. If you witness an incident of domestic violence, call the police.

Assault is assault no matter how you slice it. Just because it occurs between intimate partners does not mean we can look the other way.

If you know someone who is involved in an abuse relationship, offer specific help. Let them know where they can go, what numbers to call, what websites to go to, and who they can turn to for help. They may not want your help, but if you offer it, then they will know who they can come to when they are ready to get help.

Read Temple’s full article here: http://www.galvestondailynews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=6d157091e4add50c

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September 29, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Cops vs. Skateboarders: Issues in Property and Safety

Officer Rivieri, the officer featured in the video, was sued by the parents of the boy he attacked, but the case was recently thrown out of court in favor of Rivieri. But he may face department disciplinary action.

I recently saw this video of a Baltimore police officer yelling at and physically subduing a 14-year-old skateboarder. The video was posted in February 2008 and has been viewed on YouTube over 3 million times. But other than being popular, this video is not unique. A quick search on YouTube brings up a whole host of videos documenting the clashes between law enforcement and skateboarders, and these clashes have been taking place for as long as skateboarders have been on the streets. Sometimes it seems that skateboarders and cops are destined to be locked in an eternal battle over property, safety, and miscommunication.

As a parent, you want to make sure that your children are safe, but you also want to give them the freedom to pursue what they enjoy in life. There are a few main issues involved in skater/law enforcement clashes that might help us to better steer our skateboarding children away from confrontations with police.

Property Concerns

Most of the time, when police confront skaters it’s over issues involving private or public property. Some private property owners do not want skaters on their property, in front of their store, in their parking lot, etc., because they see skaters as a injury liability, and the same goes for public property. If a skater falls and seriously injures him or herself in or around private or public property, the owner or the city could be liable for that injury. To avoid being sued by a skater’s parents over their child’s high-injury-risk behavior, the city or private property owners deter skaters from practicing on the

A waxed curb

Example of a waxed curb

property through “No Skateboarding” signs and law enforcement patrols. As well, if a skater is caught skating on private property he or she could be charged with trespassing.

In addition to simple trespassing and the risk of potential injury, skaters often participate in defacing or damaging public and private property. Skaters use city features to do tricks. Objects like handrails, benches, stairs, curbs, or other concrete or metal structures can be damaged by skaters who use them to grind on, jump off, and jump onto. As well, most cities view the use of wax on concrete features as defacing public property, akin to graffiti. This damage costs the city money to fix, so it seems logical that they would want to keep skaters from damaging these features.

Public Nuisance

Concerns over property are not the only reason business owners and law enforcement don’t want skaters in certain areas. Because skateboarding is a very physical sport, not only does it pose an injury risk to skaters, but to other citizens as well. Not landing a jump or not having control of one’s board could cause skaters to run into other citizens in the immediate area, causing them injury. Depending on where the skating is happening and at what time, this can be a big concern for business owners who don’t want their customers hassled by skaters and law enforcement who want to keep citizens safe.

Skater fashion

Skater fashion

But beyond safety, many business owners don’t want skaters around simply because they do not have the image the business is trying to convey. In general, skateboarding is not only a sport but a fashion style that may include saggy pants, long hair, ripped clothing, and more. A business owner may be averse to letting these perceived shady characters skate on their property. And although, technically, only the fashion police can arrest you for looking grungy, law enforcement officers also want public places to look nice, so trying to persuade skaters to leave those areas might be viewed as a small-scale public beautification project.

Physical Threats

Although law enforcement has many reasons to enforce property and safety laws, that does not always mean they do so in an appropriate way. As evidenced in the video mentioned above, some officers will use force when they perceive that a citizen is being disrespectful or will not comply with verbal warnings. As well, law enforcement officers face potentially dangerous situations everyday and encounter a lot of criticism from the public and the media. Law enforcement is a high-stress job, and skaters who talk back, make off-color remarks, or don’t respect the law way be seen as a threat even if they pose no immediate physical threat at all.

Avoiding Police Confrontation

As a parent, it’s important to let your child know that law enforcement officers are mainly concerned with safety and property issues when it comes to skateboarders. Here are some thing to avoid:

  • Avoid skating on private or public property that explicitly states “No Skateboarding.”
  • Don’t damage property either by grinding on it or waxing it.
  • Show respect for law enforcement—even if you think they are in the wrong—showing respect will help avoid potentially dangerous confrontations. If the officer really is in the wrong, file a complaint. An officer who receives multiple complaints raises a red flag for that officer’s superior.
Skate park

Skate park

In areas where a skate park is available, help your child make use of it, so they can avoid confrontation with police. If you don’t have a skate park in your area, lobby your city council to build one and point out that creating such a park will reduce crime and concentrate skaters into one area. Overall, just keep in mind that police are not out to “get” your skateboarding son or daughter. They are just trying to keep your city safe and clean. If you let your child know what officers are most concerned about, you may help them to avoid potentially dangerous situations in the future and skate safety.

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September 24, 2009 at 7:55 am 4 comments

1,000 CrimeReports Fans on Facebook!

Today, CrimeReports has reached 1,000 fans on Facebook. It was slightly less than a month ago that we announced 500 fans, but thanks to our enthusiastic users, CrimeReports is growing like never before. We are extremely pleased to have so many supporters across the US and Canada who want to get involved in neighborhood crime prevention by working with their local law enforcement and using CrimeReports.

Thanks to everyone who has made this possible by spreading the word, talking to your neighbors, and working with local law enforcement to keep your neighborhoods safer.

Get even more information and links by following us on Twitter: @crimereports.

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September 11, 2009 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

Rooting Out Sex Offenders, Taking Responsibility For Our Own Neighborhoods

Although the story of Jaycee Lee Duggard has put local law enforcement under the spotlight, and the local police chief has admitted errors, there is one group that hasn’t received much criticism at all for its mishandling of the situation: the neighbors.

Neighborhood Suspicions

I’ve read and heard about the many neighbors who thought Phil Garrido was creepy. And many of them suspected he was probably doing something bad or illegal. In fact, I have read accounts that neighbors even suspected sexual acts were being committed in the backyard, and that children were being kept back there. On one occasion a neighbor called the police, but nothing came of it, so they let the matter drop.

Why didn’t these neighbors—who knew Garrido was a sex offender—voice their concerns earlier or follow up with the police officers? Maybe it was for fear of wrongly accusing an innocent man, or maybe they just didn’t want to get involved.

Taking Responsibility

As citizens in our communities it is our duty to keep our neighborhoods safe. Granted, police have the specific duty to enforce the law when it is broken, but they cannot do their jobs without our help.

One of the lessons we need to take away from this unfortunate case, is that WE are ultimately responsible for the safety of our community—not law enforcement. We need to break out of our shells, talk to our neighbors, and communicate our concern with them. Knowing that other people share our concerns, makes it easier to report crimes, and work together to keep our neighborhoods safe.

If an incident is not resolved to your satisfaction, contact your local law enforcement agency again. Talk to your neighbors and start a coalition to resolve continuing concerns with law enforcement or the local city council, if necessary. I recently heard a law enforcement officer say that if you strongly feel that something is not right, but your neighbor has an 8-ft fence, get a 10-ft ladder and see for yourself what is going on.

Ultimately, ceding our neighborhood protection duties to law enforcement leaves us without control over our own homes, families, and communities. The police cannot be in all places at all times, be we are in our communities all the time. Let’s take responsibility, get involved, and take back our neighborhoods.

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September 8, 2009 at 7:00 am 2 comments

Neighborhood Watch Uses Social Media to Stay in Touch

A neighborhood watch group in West Valley City, Utah, was recently profiled in the local news. Through emails and Facebook, this neighborhood watch is able to stay informed and keep themselves safe. Check out the video below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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September 3, 2009 at 11:11 am Leave a comment

Indiana’s ‘Silver Alert’ Helps Find Missing Adults

Although the nation’s Amber Alert system is widely publicized and used when a child goes missing, Indiana’s new “Silver Alert” is helping to find wandering seniors who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other mental illnesses.

The new alert system was put into place on July 1st and has already been used five times to locate five individuals. “We needed something to alert the public when those with Alzheimer’s or other illnesses wander,” said Melissa Barile, the Alzheimer’s Association’s regional director in Fort Wayne.

For grown children of aging parents, a system like this helps give peace of mind that there is a structure in place to help locate and rescue missing persons with serious mental conditions and bring them back safe. If your state does not have a Silver Alert system, support legislation that would put one into place.

Read more about the system here: http://www.jg.net/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090830/NEWS07/308309931

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September 1, 2009 at 10:53 am Leave a comment

In Defense of Traffic Tickets

Tom Vanderbilt recently posted an annoying, yet true, argument for the virtues of traffic tickets at Slate.com. Among his arguments for praising the virtues of traffic tickets:

  • Timothy McVeigh, Ted Bundy, David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, and 9/11 ring-leader Mohammed Atta were all brought to police attention through traffic violations.
  • People who commit non-traffic crimes (i.e., burglary, assault, etc.) tend to also violate traffic laws and are more likely to be pulled over.
  • A 2006 study found that when traffic citations decreased in New York, traffic fatalities rose 11%.

I hate to admit it, but he’s right. Traffic tickets keep us safer on the road and off.

You can read the full article here: http://www.slate.com/id/2226509

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August 31, 2009 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

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